Aha! So this is what all that seemingly puritanical deletion of vaguely boob-related iPhone apps was really all about: Apple is on the verge of approving an “Explicit” category for apps in iTunes. It may cover e-books too.
There was much hand-wringing online about the way Apple just handled its purge of ever-so-slightly-adult-content apps on the App Store, and Phil Schiller even stepped in to weakly explain that Apple was getting complaints from women (meanwhile, leaving the Playboy app and apps objectifying men still on sale). Commenters wondered if Apple was making a play for the squeaky-clean educational market, or was worried about its family-friendly image. I was on the verge of writing an article lambasting Apple’s narrow-mindedness, from my standpoint as a European with a more carefree attitude toward matters of a pink-pixel nature, and expressing my moral outrage at Apple’s squeamishness.
But now all is clear. Apple’s iTunes was actually passing through that “members of the opposite sex are icky” stage in its emotional development, and speeding through puberty to accepting the implications of grown-up sexuality. CultofMac folk spotted that Apple’s added a new “Explicit” category in the bit of iTunes Connect for App Store submissions that plugs into the parental controls built into iPhones. MacRumors subsequently confirmed it, and notes it sits alongside the more usual categories like “books” and “entertainment.”
Clearly Apple’s business development team think along the same lines as my article arguing that one future driver for the iPad’s success will be porn. It’s just a fact of life. But there’s an intriguing implication in this new move by Apple, of course: An “Explicit” app could be just about anything, from a dedicated portal to an adult movie-producer’s content, to a game, to erotic fiction, to a social networking tool. And once Apple’s embraced this sort of content…can we wonder if there’ll be naughty books in the iBooks app alongside adult videos in the iTunes Movie store? Not yet, I’d suggest. At least until Apple’s patented some clever iPhone/iPad tech that auto-detects if you’re over 18.
UPDATE: According to an Apple developer, that “explicit” option that triggered such optimism for a brave new world of dirty pictures? Gone, this morning. He even called up Apple to figure out why, why in the name of all that is good and naked, was this option removed? Was it an accident? The Apple rep responded in the negative, saying that while they are thinking about it, “it’s not going to happen anytime soon.” Sorry, porn developers: it’s just not your time quite yet.